TheThe Different Types of HVAC Systems for Commercial Buildings

You’ve found this article because you own or manage a commercial building, and you’re researching your options for commercial HVAC systems. Well done! You’ve come to the right place.

We’re going to highlight the three primary types of HVAC systems available in the market today (for commercial properties). We’ll lay out their unique features, benefits, and potential drawbacks, giving you the knowledge you’ll need to assess which system might be right for the business you have in mind.

Whether you’re installing a new system or upgrading an existing one, the right choice can lead to substantial savings in energy and maintenance costs while also ensuring optimal comfort.

Finally, we will look at an essential part of your decision-making process—something often neglected—the lifespan of these systems. Understanding how long an HVAC system is expected to last and what factors influence its longevity is essential for planning maintenance schedules and budgeting for future replacements.

So, let’s stop with the preamble and dive right in.

The Types of HVAC Systems Available for Commercial Buildings:

1) Single Split Systems:

Description and How They Work

Single split systems are among the most popular and cost-effective HVAC solutions for small to medium-sized commercial buildings. They contain two main components: an outdoor unit containing the compressor and condenser and an indoor unit that houses the air handler and evaporator. The indoor and outdoor units are connected by a conduit carrying refrigerant and power lines.


Single-split systems are ideal for small commercial spaces such as individual offices, shops, or cafes. Their biggest advantage lies in their simplicity and affordability. Each indoor unit operates independently, which means different rooms can have different temperatures, catering to varying comfort needs.

They’re easy to install and do not require extensive ductwork.

Potential Limitations

They’re inefficient for large commercial spaces due to the need for multiple outdoor units.

2) Multi-Split Systems:

Description and How They Work

Multi-split systems are an advanced version of the single split system. They address the limitations of the smaller systems, particularly in terms of scalability. Multiple indoor units are connected to a single outdoor unit. This setup allows for individual control of the temperature in different rooms or zones within a commercial building but with fewer outdoor units needed. Utilising space more effectively.


Multi-split systems are more suited to larger commercial spaces like medium-sized offices, restaurants, or retail stores, with limited space for multiple outdoor units. They balance efficiency and convenience, allowing different areas to be heated or cooled independently based on occupancy or preference.

Did you know multi-splits are more energy-efficient than having multiple single splits?

Potential Limitations

The installation and technology of a multi-split system can be more complex and, therefore, expensive. Thoughtful planning is required to ensure the outdoor unit is powerful enough to support all connected indoor units and the system is optimally configured for the specific layout and needs of the building.

3) VRF/VRV Systems

Description and How It Works

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) or Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) systems consist of one or more outdoor units connected to multiple indoor units via a network of refrigerant lines. They’re controlled by a sophisticated system that varies the flow based on the demand of the indoor units.

In VRF/VRV HVAC systems, each indoor unit can be controlled independently, allowing for precise temperature control in different zones or rooms. This is facilitated by advanced inverter technology and sophisticated electronics.


By operating at varying speeds, these systems consume only the amount of energy needed at any given time, significantly reducing energy consumption. Energy efficiency means lower operational costs and a smaller carbon footprint, making these systems a more environmentally friendly choice.

Additional benefits:

  • Flexibility in terms of installation and design.
  • Adaptability for large, multi-zoned spaces like hotels, large offices, and mixed-use buildings.
  • Quiet operations, improving the comfort of the indoor environment.

Potential Limitations

Due to the complexity of the technology and the need for carefully planned and specialised installation, they have the highest cost of the 3 HVAC options.

These specialised installations will also require expertise for troubleshooting and repair, potentially leading to higher maintenance costs.

The Lifespan of Commercial HVAC Systems

The lifespan of HVAC systems will vary, dependent on the technology, brands, maintenance, usage, and more. But here are some rough lifespans to give you a good idea:

Single-split systems typically have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years. Factors that can affect this include the quality of the unit, the climate in which it operates, and how well it is maintained.

Multi-Split Systems generally last between 10 to 15 years. However, regular maintenance can extend their lifespan, especially since these systems often serve larger spaces and endure more extensive use.

VRF/VRV Systems are known for their durability and can often last upwards of 15 to 20 years. The advanced technology and higher build quality contribute to their longer lifespan. Regular maintenance is essential to ensure they continue to operate efficiently over time.

For expertise and guidance on selecting and installing the right HVAC system for your commercial property, get in touch. Our 5-star rated air-conditioning experts are only too happy to help.

Find out more here, or give us a call 1300 306 847

Need More Help?

If you are still unsure of whether you need a domestic or commercial cooling unit, please get in touch with our team of expert technicians. We will run through your specific business requirements and help you decide which type of fridge or freezer is right for your needs.

Precision Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Melbourne 2020
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